Supermarkets adjust hours, limit items as response to COVID-19

Area supermarkets have scrambled in recent days to help prevent spread of the coronavirus.

Wegmans, GIANT and Weis Markets, which operate stores throughout Lycoming County, have each put in place precautionary measures to safeguard customers and their employees.

Stores are also limiting purchases of items by customers.

Wegmans experienced a slowdown in numbers of customers coming to its Williamsport store Monday, according to assistant store manager Daniel Taylor.

“It’s been pretty quiet. I don’t know if it’s because of the weather,” he said, referring to the light snow that fell over much of the region Monday morning.

Sunday, he added, was also not as busy a time for the store as previous days.

The store is doing its best to keep products in high demand in stock.

Toilet paper has not been a problem, but disinfectants have been another matter.

“We usually run out in a few hours,” he said.

In the meantime, Wegmans and other stores are doing their best to disinfect and keep stores clean.

Gov. Wolf is reminding state residents that grocery stores, food processors and food banks remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic and the administration is working to expand resources for those who are food insecure.

“Even in a pandemic, grocery stores and food banks are life-sustaining and accessible; food production and distribution are continuing,” Wolf said. “I urge all Pennsylvanians to have faith in our food system. If each one of us commits to only buy what we need; there will be enough for everyone and their neighbors.”

A rationing of supplies is well under way at supermarkets.

At Wegmans, customers can purchase no more than two items ranging from baby supplies and disinfectants to paper products and food, including produce, according to store officials.

Weis has limited purchases of selected items including disinfectants, bath tissue, bleach, water, eggs, milk and bread, rolls and muffins, according to information from its website.

GIANT has placed a limit of two on “key” categories throughout the store, including paper products and disinfectants.

Each of the stores are continuing to offer online ordering pickup and delivery, although high demand for the services can cause delays for customers.

Wegman’s has closed its cafe seating areas, in-store pubs and select burger bars at its stores, according to its website. Store hours are now 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Store officials are trying to ensure customers do not huddle close behind one another while waiting at checkout areas.

“We are doing social distancing in lines,” Taylor said.

GIANT has adjusted its store hours from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. To help better protect senior citizens who are the most susceptible to COVID-19, only customers age 60 and over will be allowed in the store between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Senior customers can now pick up their prescriptions using the GIANT Direct or MARTIN’S Direct parking spaces at their local store. The prescriptions will need to be paid for (by credit card) in advance by calling the pharmacy.

Upon arrival at the store, customers can call the pharmacy regarding their prescription pickup. A pharmacy team member then delivers the prescriptions to the customer’s vehicle.

Meanwhile, GIANT is now offering UPS mailing of prescriptions. The prescriptions will need to be paid for (by credit card) in advance by calling GIANT or MARTIN’S pharmacies.

Prescriptions arrive in two business days and there will be no shipping charge.

Weis officials announced it began paying store-level, hourly paid associates an additional $2 per hour.

The temporary increase, which went into effect Sunday, occurs as the company serves communities impacted by COVID-19 containment measures, according to Weis spokesman Dennis Curtin.